…Is knowing when to blink. And the United Airlines flight attendant union appears to have just blinked. Faced with an involuntary furlough of nearly 700 flight attendants the union has apparently softened (or at least split on) its position on the “crossover” program which allows current employees of the legacy United part of the operation to work under the legacy Continental half of the company, a position the Union strongly and repeatedly opposed.
As you already know, approximately 700 of our sisters and brothers are subject to layoff on the s-UAL side of the house. This reality has caused your CAL AFA significant angst. This is not a situation which affords anyone the luxury of standing idly by. Therefore, the CAL AFA MEC has unanimously agreed to a bridge employment agreement with the Company. We cannot prevent the layoff of our s-UAL sisters and brothers but we can offer them employment on our side of the house. The offer of employment is strictly voluntary and only open to those who are subject to layoff at s-UAL. We have agreed that these individuals shall retain their company seniority for pay, vacation, and travel; and will have a bidding date of April 1, 2014 (they shall retain their recall rights under the terms and conditions of the s-UAL AFA agreement) – the same conditions that we have agreed to in past crossovers and bridge agreements.
There are, of course, some caveats to the crossover agreement which were not part of the prior negotiations. For example, the restriction to only those subject to layoffs as the s-UAL side of the operation was not previously part of the deal. Still, the agreement allows those who wish to continue working the opportunity to do so, albeit at a lower seniority ranking for purposes of bidding. And that lower seniority might mean that they FAs who do cross become based at a station different than where they are now. That could present some interesting commuting challenges.
It is also interesting to read the different tone of the two letters about the topic from United
‘s SVP Employee Relations, P. Douglas McKeen. In a letter sent at the beginning of January to the s-UAL AFA SVP In-Flight Sam Risoli is impressively aggressive, almost confrontational. In the letter confirming details of this agreement SVP Employee Relations P. Douglas McKeen’s tone is decidedly more pleasant. Certainly part of that is because one is a negotiating message and the other is announcing an agreement. Still, it is an entertaining read.
Perhaps even more entertaining is that the s-UAL side of the AFA is pissed about this deal being struck. At least their management is.
We are outraged.
Mr. Risoli has again chosen to go directly to you and work with the representatives from the Continental subsidiary to circumvent your legal representative. By this action, the company’s intentions are clear: an end-run around your United AFA leadership.
There’s more to the statement but it is pretty clear that the AFA factions haven’t figured out a common stance internally. Until that happens it seems unlikely that the union will be able to reasonably negotiate with management.
Overall my view is that fewer unemployed flight attendants is a good thing. And the mess with union integration really needs to be solved sooner than not. It sucks. Seems like the Union should start by getting their own ducks in a row first, though.
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